Kilgrave's power of influence is a result of

the virus he emits (or pheromones in the comics).

This means that anyone within range, and breathing the same air as he is automatically infected - regardless of whether or not Kilgrave is speaking or whether or not they can hear.

Once affected, do Kilgrave's commands have to be given verbally, or can they be written?

In absence of a definitive answer from the TV show, an answer from the comics will suffice.

  • 1
    Well, its just a guess but if he would first give you a voice command "Follow every order that I write and sign" then yes, otherwise I don't think so, since his commands seem to be voice controlled.
    – Yasskier
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 22:27

2 Answers 2


Written commands don't seem to work.

During the story arc where Killgrave is captured by Jessica&Co, they put him into a sound-proof chamber with a large glass window. When written commands would be suitable, this would not have been secure. He wrote "Kill me" on the window with his food. Everyone read it, but they did not kill him.

One might argue that the chamber might have being air-tight as a protection against the virus, but then the sound-proofing would not have been necessary.

This scenario also rules out body language and gestures, by the way.

But there might still be a loophole through which he could use non-verbal instructions to control someone during the period where a verbal command is effective: He could give the verbal command "obey any written commands I will give you".

  • 3
    IIRC Killgrave wrote "Kill me" on the clear wall of the cell using the ketchup from the burger & fries Jessica gives him; they did not kill him. Either way it doesn't matter, the importance of the cell was that it was hermetically sealed, which gave them protection from the virus he emitted. And remember, they didn't build this cell for Killgrave; Simpson just said it was "used to hold a few patient zero's" for the CDC
    – Kapler
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 19:08

There isn't conclusive evidence, but I would say: No

A few times throughout the show, the characters would describe their experience of being Kilgraved, and they said that they "wanted to do those things" while contrarily definitely did not want to. Despite Kilgrave's power having a different source than it does in the comics, it works quite similarly. People's desires are changed such that they want to do what he says.

In episode 1, Hope says

He made me do things that I didn't want to do, but I wanted to.

In episode 3, Hope says

He said, "Wish her a happy birthday," and that was suddenly the only thing that I wanted to say.

In episode 4, another victim describes his experience like this:

He just stared straight ahead and said "You'd like to leave your son, wouldn't you?" And I said yes. I pulled Avery out, put him on the curb, and drove away. I saw him in my rear-view mirror, just weeping on the sidewalk, and I hated myself because it's what I wanted.

Therefore people follow his orders because they want to do what he says. If they know what Kilgrave wants them to do, they will do it. Following written/electronic orders would derive from this equally well. He could give a little nod at a gun and if they could figure out he wants them to shoot themself, they would do it. An example of a Kilgraved person taking at least "parts" of orders through other means is in episode 13:

We learn that Luke had been kilgraved, and was calling in through the phone to give updates. This would require Luke taking the "order" to tell him information.

It could be argued that it was because they were ordered verbally to begin with, but I don't think that's necessary.

I'm not sure what you mean by "whether or not they can hear", since in the question you linked, it's determined that they do have to be able to hear him speak.

However, giving commands verbally is easily the most convenient method of delivering them. If you're running at him wanting to kill him, it's a lot faster for him to yell "stop!" than for him to sit down and write on a piece of paper "stop" and then cause you to see it.

  • 1
    "There are definitely examples..". Could you please give one?
    – kaine
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 21:04
  • @kaine A few quotes added to support original point. One example added... I'm pretty sure there's more but haven't found them yet.
    – Nacht
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 7:38
  • 2
    I'm not following your point. The virus makes the victims desires match Kilgraves' commands. What does that have to do with how the commands are delivered?
    – phantom42
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 14:44
  • 2
    ok, your answer just seemed to be focusing a lot on the victim being conflicted about their wills being overriden and part of them wanting to do the horrible things.
    – phantom42
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 4:02
  • 2
    that's where i'm not following. how does that make it not need to be a verbal command?
    – phantom42
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 11:54

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